Venezuela Aims to Crack Down on "Media Crimes"

In ONI's in-depth 2007 study of Internet filtering and controls in Venezuela, we declared Internet use to be "not subject to extensive content restrictions" but remarked upon concerns that the "Chávez administration could institute Internet filtering in the near future."

It would seem that time is nigh: Following a declaration of the Internet to be a "superfluous expense" by the government, President Hugo Chávez has now branded Twitter users traitors after a Twitter campaign against the government's crackdown on media.

The crackdown has focused primarily on television and radio, recently shutting down 34 commercial stations in favor of state-owned "community media" channels. Critics warn that the Internet - specifically social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook could be the next targets. A law to channel all Internet communication through servers controlled by CANTV, the state telecom, has been proposed and would severely limit freedom of expression, critics say.

The government's actions prompted a Twitter frenzy, causing the government to make a claim that Twitter is a haven for "terrorists."

Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch have spoken out against Venezuela's actions.

Photo credit: quecomunismo